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Achieving the Perfect Brew

The Water

Always start with fresh, cold water. Never use water from the hot tap or water that has already been boiled. Bottled or filtered water is recommended especially in areas with old plumbing or heavily chlorinated hard water. The best water temperature for brewing is between 90-95°C. To achieve this temperature, let your kettle rest for a few moments after boiling.

If the water is too hot, the coffee will be scalded and become bitter. If the water is too cold, it won’t extract all of the flavour, leaving a watery brew. Also, remember to pre heat your pot by pouring hot water into the empty vessel to warm it; empty before brewing.

The Grind

The grind of your coffee depends on the brewing method you are using. Coffees should be ground to the correct consistency, so remember to consult your grinder’s instruction manual for the correct settings when grinding your own beans. Check out the back of our retail packs for a guide to purchasing the correct blend for your coffee maker. An espresso machine offers the best method for extracting all of the potential flavour from your coffee and makes the best cup of Monjava. Always ensure your equipment is properly cleaned after each use and is kept in proper working order.

The Flavour

The flavour of your coffee depends heavily on brewing time. When water comes into contact with coffee grounds for too long it can produce a bitter flavour. Conversely, when water is passed through the coffee too quickly, the coffee lacks flavour.

The Freshness

Coffee should be consumed directly after making it for the best flavour. It can be kept heated for no more than 20 minutes, before the flavour becomes rancid. Reheating coffee can make the flavour even worse. An airtight thermos preserves the flavour of coffee for several hours if you filter it first; coffee kept like this can develop a thermos taste though. Brew it fresh instead for small effort and a big reward.

Buying and Storing

The better coffee is stored, the better it will taste when consumed. At Monjava, our 500g and 1kg coffee is sold in heat sealed packs with a one-way valve so gases released after roasting can escape but air cannot enter to oxidize and spoil the flavour, retaining its natural taste and flavour. Once opened all our bags should be stored in an airtight container.

Follow these tips for the best tasting coffee:

  • Always purchase freshly roasted coffee. Coffee is a food, so the fresher the better. Old coffee becomes oily and develops a rancid flavour.
  • Keep equipment clean. Dirty equipment can harbour coffee oils, which can have the same effect as brewing with old coffee. It is best to clean your equipment after each use.
  • Store your coffee correctly. Heat, light and moisture affect the end result of your brew. Store your coffee in an airtight container.
  • Choose the right grind. The wrong grind for your equipment will leave you with an under or over-extracted brew. Store ground coffee in a cool, dark cupboard in an airtight container and try to make ground coffee purchases in the smallest possible amount.

Brewing Methods

Plunger

Use medium to coarsely ground coffee and water between 90-95°C.

Start by pouring a small amount of water on the coffee to let the grounds ‘bloom’. Fresh coffee will bubble as gas is released. This method will help the flavour infuse more evenly when the rest of the water is added. Add the rest of the water and stir your brew to keep the grounds wet. Wait a minute and stir again before pushing the plunger down. Don’t wait more than three minutes or your coffee could become bitter from over-extraction.

Dripolator

Use a medium to fine grind for your ‘electric’ or ‘pour-over’ dripolator.

For best results use gold or nylon permanent filters. If permanent filters are cleaned after each use, they allow the coffee to pass through without adding unwanted flavours. Paper filters can leave a papery taste, but rinsing with warm water before use can wash away some of the impurities. Don’t skimp on the amount of coffee you use. Always use the same proportion of ground coffee to water whether you are brewing in a coffeemaker or by the cup, a large quantity or a small.

Espresso

Using a burr or conical grinder if you have an espresso machine is highly recommended.

The grind of your coffee is crucial to making the perfect espresso. If it is too coarse, your brew will be thin and week, too fine and the coffee will be over-extracted and bitter. In most machines with a good pump, an espresso should take 20 to 25 seconds to extract. As the espresso flows into your cup, there should be a caramel-brown layer on top. If the liquid becomes whitish-brown, stop immediately. The good tasting soluble solids have been extracted and the resulting fluid will now taste awful.

A properly prepared espresso is 30mls or about the size of a shot glass. Trying to force more water through the grounds will give it a bitter taste. Your espresso should be strong, but not bitter. If you prefer a weaker brew, add hot water or hot milk.

The Importance of Water

Depending on strength, a cup of coffee is about 98% water, so the quality of the water dramatically impacts the quality of the coffee you drink.

Good water is the start of good coffee

A cup of coffee brewed from high quality coffee beans at the right temperature with the correct amount of clean, filtered water will smell and taste great.

More than just water

Water is often taken for granted, but for a cup of coffee it’s the largest ingredient. It transforms coffee into the beverage we love. Good-tasting water isn’t necessarily going to make the best-tasting coffee. The flavour of water is dependent on its mineral content; some bottled water has a high content of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc.  These minerals may improve the taste of the water, but they will produce a mediocre cup of coffee.

Good chemistry

Coffee has more than 800 identifiable chemical compounds or constituents – more than tea, and more than double the complexity of wine. The reaction of good coffee and good water produces the complex flavours we all seek in a good cup. The nature of the coffee brewing process varies widely depending on what’s in the water, its temperature, how long it’s in contact with the coffee, and what kind of grind was used in preparing the beans. When you ask for ground coffee instead of whole beans be sure to advise your retailer of your brewing method.

Water texture and flavour

The texture or ‘mouthfeel’ of water comes from the level of mineral ‘hardness’ or ‘softness’. It is measured by the quantities of dissolved solid matter, including the salts in the water and suspended minerals.

The Right Grind

Why the correct grind is crucial to quality coffee

The correct grind is one of the most important and least understood aspects of enjoying quality coffee. The wrong grind can turn the freshest, most skillfully roasted blend into bitter mud, watery swill or worse. Each method of brewing coffee has a grind particularly suited to it.

 

Choosing your grind

When you choose a grind, think about how long the water will be in contact with the grounds. If it is only for a short time, like in espresso, the grind must be very fine. This will expose as much of the beans’ surface area as possible, allowing the hot pressurized water to quickly pull the flavour from the oils out of the grounds. In a method where the water and grounds will be in contact for a longer period of time, such as with a Plunger, or percolator, a coarser grind is necessary; because a fine grind will quickly release all the pleasant flavours, then release some of the more harsh and bitter woody elements.

Many people mistake a finer grind with ‘stronger’ coffee. Increased bitterness is not the key to strong coffee. Simply using a higher ratio of coffee to water will increase the strength in the cup, without compromising the flavour of the coffee. Similarly, coffee that is ground too coarsely will not allow the water to seep into the grounds and extract the finer flavours, resulting in a watery or sometimes ‘sour’ cup of coffee or espresso.

When you look closely at ground coffee, you will see particle sizes ranging from powder to larger grounds the size of sugar granules. Variation within a grind is not uncommon, but minimizing the variation will improve the quality of your drinks. The common ‘blade’ style grinder that many of us have is the least expensive and most convenient way to enjoy fresh ground coffee at home. While this leads to a much fresher tasting cup than pre-ground coffee, the variation in the size of the particles is fairly large. This is significant because the finer particles are extracting at a faster pace than the larger ones, which can lend unevenness or even a slight bitter note to a cup of coffee.

To reduce particle size variation (though it won’t eliminate it), a ‘burr’ style grinder is recommended. They are more expensive, but are capable of producing fairly consistent grinds ranging from espresso to Plunger. Consistency is due to the fact that all beans ground in a burr grinder must pass through the space between the two grinding discs. This space is adjustable depending on the desired grind setting.

Grind right before you brew

When coffee is ground, many of the flavoursome gases and aromas trapped inside the bean are immediately released. In whole bean coffee, these gasses escape more gradually. Many of these gasses dissipate within a very short amount of time. To get the most from your coffee, grind it just before brewing. If this is not possible, try our recommended grinds.